Of trains, violent thugs, Arabic insults and partial journalism

A seemingly insignificant, albeit disturbing, local news episode. On a regional train near Milan. Five youngsters brazenly lying down on their seats, despite the train being packed with commuters, lots of people standing. A passenger rebukes them, they immediately proceed to beat him savagely. He’ll spend a month or so in the hospital due to multiple facial fractures. He’s been saved by an off-duty policeman who happened to be on the same car. Three of the offenders have been arrested. They’re Italian. First of all. They’ve been presented by the media as “ragazzi”, i.e. a word that indicates young teenagers or boys, but they’re between 18 and 25 years old.…

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Imaginary conversation on a plane in Sweden

This young student, Elin Ersson, became an instant celebrity because she took a stand against the deportation of an Afghan man from Sweden to Afghanistan: she boarded the passenger plane with which he was being sent out of the country and refused to sit down, protesting the deportation while recording the incident on a Facebook video. Teary eyed, she must have felt immensely proud for her bravery and humanitarian commitment while the sheepish Goteborg airport authorities caved in and disembarked the man. This is 2018: people her age have no memory of a world before 9/11. Nowadays air travel is subject to all sorts of security checks: you can be…

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Yawn @ German elections

Angela Merkel, 3D glasses

The obligatory comments on the 2017 German general election are pouring in, with pundits serving up large scoops of alarmed rhetoric over the unprecedented return of “the Nazis” to the Bundestag (German Parliament), for the first time since WWII. The reality is way more mundane and unimpressive. The new “populist” party AfD (Alternative für Deutschland = Alternative for Germany) this time was able to seize an impressive 13% of the vote, while in 2013 they fell short of the 5% barrier to entry in the parliament. But they’re far from being Nazi sympathizers. You may ask yourself, instead, since their political platform would have been deemed pretty reasonable for a…

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